U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais and his ex-wife made a “mutual decision” for her to have an abortion, according to transcripts of testimony he gave during their 2001 divorce trial.
DesJarlais, a doctor, has been engulfed in scandal since revelations in October of a transcript from a phone call in which he pressured a mistress, who was also a former patient of his, to have an abortion. Despite that, and subsequent revelations about another woman, he won re-election easily last week.
During the 2001 divorce trial, DesJarlais testified about two abortions he said his former wife Susan had while they were together. One, he said, was while she was taking an experimental drug that would have caused risks during pregnancy. The other, according to his testimony, was at a time when “things were not going well” in their marriage.
“I don’t think it was easy for either one of us,” he told the court. “I think it was a very difficult and poor choice and I think that there are probably regrets both ways.”
DesJarlais has consistently campaigned as an anti-abortion conservative.
In a Facebook letter to supporters last month, the congressman said that he “used rather strong rhetoric” during his phone call with a former patient with whom he had a sexual relationship, in an attempt to get her to admit that she was not pregnant. However, transcripts of that woman’s testimony released Thursday show that she testified she had been pregnant, though she declined to reveal the outcome of that pregnancy.
In the same Facebook letter, DesJarlais also said media reports that he had recorded their conversation were false, claiming that he had been recorded “unknowingly and without my consent.” According to his 2001 testimony, however, he and his former wife recorded the call.